The world teaches our kids to want more and more stuff and to focus on “me, me, me.” So how do we raise a child who doesn’t feel entitled but instead models Jesus by putting the needs of others first? Well, simply put. It takes practice. Lots of it. As parents, we can teach our children how and why to be generous by practicing it as a family. Research indicates that being generous increases the happiness and sense of fulfillment for all ages. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised because it’s a Fruit of the Spirit. We put together 5 simple ways families can practice being generosity. These ideas can serve as a starting point as God reveals even more ways to put the needs of others first.
5 Hands-On Ways to Teach Children How to Be Generous
1. Take your kids shopping for a local food pantry.
Make this something you do each month as a family. Give each child a budget and let him or her select items. Try asking questions like: *What do you like to eat for dinner? *What’s your favorite snack? What about your best friend? *Does that cereal give you good energy for learning school? *What is something that you could make on your own? *What do you think is the difference between the name brand and the store brand? Use this time to teach children how much food and other items costs and the tough decisions many parents make each week. Some families in low-income areas may be choosing between purchasing groceries for seven meals or paying to heat their homes. Give your children real examples for them to understand. Share how much one of your utility bills and how much your family spends on groceries or how many boxes of macaroni and cheese that would buy. Talk about the differences between a “need” and a “want.” After shopping together, bring the groceries to your local food pantry. Serving together there as a family can show your children how to be generous with your finances and your time. Both are valuable resources God gives us.
2. Clean out the closets.
Go through your child’s clothes together and donate items that no longer fit. Talk about how these donations help people or organizations. Many local schools include clothes closets that the nurse or counselors use for children in need. Contact your local schools to see if they could use any of items. Coats, pants, socks, and (new) underwear are always in need in our schools. Pray for the children who will receive them.
3. Give away water or ice pops.
For the warmer months, bring a cooler full of ice pops or waters to the pool, playground or park and give them away. Your kids will love practicing generosity and it’s an easy way to make connections with other families.
4. Take care of a neighbor.
Be generous with your time by loving your neighbors well. As a family, cut a neighbor’s grass while they are on vacation. Bring dinner to a family with a new baby or walking through an illness. Host a play date and tell the parents to go on their own date while your kids’ play together.
5. Say Thank You in meaningful ways.
Take the time to say thank you to the people who serve you (at the store, restaurants, in your home, etc.). Make eye contact, use their name, and smile. Yes. It sounds simple, but children need to learn and practice how to be generous with their words. Other ways to practice generosity this way could include writing notes to their teachers or coaches, drawing pictures for their friends, or writing on notecards and taping to their sibling’s bedroom door why they love them.